- In this interview with IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI, Dr Ibrahim Lawal Oduola, Director of Biomedicinal Research Centre, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), speaks on the herbal solutions the institute and centre have developed and their efficacy, among other issues.
Tell us about the Forestry Institute and the department you head in the institution
The Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) was created in 1954 and the research institute has been the largest custodian of plant specimens in the country since its inception. We have what we call forest libarion in Ibadan, which houses thousands of plant specimens for identification and preservation.
But in 2008, an herbal garden was created and since then, we have been having some productions and some other things using medicinal plants to treat one or two things. Then in 2015, when I came back to Nigeria after I had completed my Ph.D. in Phytomedicine, the Biomedicinal Research Centre was created. And since then, we have been doing better packaging of other medicinal products.
Then in 2020, we had the outbreak of COVID-19. It helped us to carry out more research in the area of the coronavirus and the National Agency for Food and Drug Law Enforcement (NAFDAC) certified our products during the process. The product was produced then was called COVIDTIN.
And since then, we have manufactured a series of products to meet the medicinal needs of many Nigerians. We have the Herbal clean hand sanitiser, which was used by the Presidential Task Force during the COVID period. And we have other products like that. This is the story behind the creation of the garden and Biomedicinal Centre. By the grace of the Almighty Allah, I am now the Director of the centre and we have so many products out there for the benefit of Nigerians.
Can you mention some of the products and what have been the solutions they have been providing to Nigerians?
Yes, we have a product that easily cures Diabetes, we call it Diatum. We also have products for the accelerator, which is libido enhancers. It is an aphrodisiac. We also have cookies, which are also an aphrodisiac.
We also have Ulcertin, which is the product-solution we have produced to treat Ulcer. We also have a solution for Malaria, we call it Malacure, which effectively cures Malaria. In fact, anyone that uses it will not experience anything like Malaria for good three years.
We also have BP Care, which handles high blood pressure. And there is also the prostacin and Prostacare which takes care of the Prostate enlargement. There is also Athribalm, which provides solutions for Arthritis. It takes care of joint pains and others. We also have some medicinal oil and several other products. But the ones I have mentioned are the major ones.
And we have been receiving good feedbacks from those that have used the products. For the diabetes product that was produced, we have received some good documentation and reviews. There are many people out there that can attest to the veracity of our products. You know it is unethical for me to start mentioning the names of people, who have used the products. But all I can say with confidence is that our products have helped a lot of people.
But what are the challenges you have been facing and how do you think the government can come in?
In the area of challenges, it has been a lack of adequate up-to-date equipment and machinery that can be used to produce more medicinal products at a time, including the funding for sufficient research that we need to carry out for the production. We really want the government to assist us more in this regard because funding research that is health-related is very costly.
And then, private individuals and agencies that are health-related can also join to fund the initiative. This just means that there must be a relationship between the government, the industry, and the researcher. The relationship could be three layers in which the researcher has a role to play, the government will also have its own and the industry will likewise have their own roles too.
The researcher will only do the needed thorough research on whatever he needs to examine and make sure that he comes up with a result, but it is expected of the government to project, fund and promote the outcome of the research. The industry will then be the one to take the patent and do the marketing. This has already been happening in some industries outside Nigeria.
If you check vividly, you will find out that all the products that have been on the shelf these days are the outcome of research. So in this research institute, if we can also have some kinds of intervention from the government which could come through different funding parastatals like TETfund and promote the products and research results we come up with, it will greatly improve our productivity as it will open to us more collaboration.
This is because the Biomedicinal Centre is only a department in FRIN, but it is looking at finding solutions to all kinds of health-related issues. So, I believe that if we have the support, we will produce more and this will go further to help the populace because health is wealth.
Talking of the gardens where you get the needed plants for your medicinal productions, how do you intend to preserve the garden and ensure we have more gardens in different parts of Nigeria?
Presently, we have the herbal gardens created in 2008 and we have about 218 species of different plants in the garden. We have also created gardens in some parts of the country. Our aim is to replicate the garden in every part of Nigeria.
This is because there are some species of plants that you can only find in the North. There are also some that are only present in the South, just as we have others that are very common in Eastern Nigeria. So based on this, we can move to have gardens of different species in the entire zones in the country.
One thing this will do for us is, it will ensure we do not run short of plants. This becomes key because it is very easy for people to misidentify the plants and this is very dangerous as it will prevent you from having the kind of medicinal results you want to get from the particular plant. So we are looking at partnering with the state governments and foundations cross the country in a bid to have more lands for specialised planting. We intend to establish strong relationships with the government as well as well-meaning Nigerians.
SOURCE: Nigerian Tribune
IMAGE: Nigerian Tribune